Gary Lee Williams

Gary Lee Williams

1944 – Oct. 29, 2021

Gary Lee Williams died Oct 29, 2021, in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Gary wasn’t one to sit still, his family wrote. He regularly encouraged those he loved to “just keep moving.” He was always motivated to seek more: more knowledge and understanding, the next experience, the next career, a faster run time, a new bicycle trail. In one of his last conversations, when speech was difficult for him, he told this writer to “go, go, go.” Having left this earth on Oct. 29, 2021, Gary is still and resting now.

The son and oldest child of Edna and Bob Williams, in 1953, at the age of 9, Gary moved with his family to homestead in Alaska. The family settled in Anchor Point on 160 acres. Hard work was required to build a structure and make a living where daily life meant no indoor bathroom or other modern conveniences.

Gary left Alaska to attend college, earning degrees in political science and in motion pictures (film) and finishing with a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage. He wanted to make the world a better place, and chose public service as his venue.

His string of careers began with being a radio announcer. He had the voice for it. Moving on, he managed the family’s hardware store and lumberyard, then became a newspaper publisher and editor of the Homer News, Homer city mayor, city manager, public television director, documentary filmmaker, purveyor of Alaska wildlife videos as the owner/founder of Alaska Video Publishing, and a university administrator. His final professional role was perhaps his favorite, working with the Kenai Peninsula Borough Coastal Management Program to protect the coastal integrity and beauty of Alaska.

An avid runner, at his peak, Gary ran a 4:06 mile. He often covered 10-plus miles a day, a practice he began as a child, running the gravel road between the Williams homestead and the North Fork River. His ability to bring home impressive king salmon from his sojourns at the river was legendary. A favorite family photo of Gary, age 10, shows him holding up a salmon almost as tall as he was. In the spirit of his need to keep moving, he was also a dedicated bicyclist (traversing the most challenging trails), a sometimes golfer, fisherman and licensed for archery hunting in Alaska.

Gary was an optimist who believed in the power, and obligation, of the individual to make a difference in the world. He cared about family and made an effort to stay connected, despite physical distance and differences. FaceTime conversations with his three granddaughters were a highlight.

His sojourn as mayor of Homer, Alaska is recorded in a chapter of “Going to Extremes,” a bestseller by journalist Joe McGinniss.

Gary spent his last days with family, near where he was born in Glendale, California. He is loved and missed by daughter Sierra and son-in-law Liam Fischback; son, Garret Williams; granddaughters, Kajsa, Odette and Adara; grandson, Malachi;, sisters, Bonnie Schram, Carol Schmidt, Joyce Haley and Judy McDaniel; and a host of nieces and nephews spread from Soldotna to Scotland.

A memorial gathering is planned for this summer.